Monday, December 31, 2012

"Running Economy Improves After a 4 Week Simulated Barefoot Running Program"

From Runblogger:
"...What happened next was interesting. After the 4-week acclimation period, running economy in the Vibram Fivefingers increased dramatically (~8%), RPE decreased by 9.45%, and foot strike shifted more toward the forefoot. To a certain extent this is to be expected – as they acclimated to the novel footwear condition, the runners got more comfortable and more efficient at running in the barefoot-style shoes. However, more surprising is that in the post-test comparison the runners were now about 7% more economical in the VFFs than they were in the training shoes (the difference was statistically significant). They also tended to land more often on the forefoot in VFFs, and continued to run with a higher stride frequency in the VFFs compared to the training shoes. Economy in the training shoes improved by 2.32% after the 4-week period, but the improvement was not significant and the authors point out that this could simply be a normal training effect (i.e., 4 weeks of additional training would be expected to have some physiological benefit)...."
Interesting, indeed. I don't find this to be suprising at all, as the primary energy storage/recovery structure in the lower leg is the Achilles tendon. If you heel-strike, you don't give the Achilles (and the arches in the foot) the opportunity to lengthen and capture energy. You're bypassing the "hybrid" nature of running: propulsion should be provided both my muscles and by the elastic properties of tendons and ligaments.

Read the whole thing, Pete does a nice job (as usual) tieing these results together with those of other studies that appear contradictory at first glance.

And Happy New Year!

Vibram Fivefingers Seeya Barefoot Running Shoe - Men's - Blue In Size: (Google Affiliate Ad)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Jay Dicharry: "Strength Training For Runners: How To Do It Right"

An interview in
"...People are entitled to their opinions, but the old school idea that the two are mutually exclusive is dead wrong. There are well-documented studies showing that weightlifting is tremendously beneficial for running in many ways that decrease injury risk and improve performance...."
Thanks, Nick!

I've been following Gordon Pirie's weight training suggestions (PDF), and they're not easy. They seem to be making a difference: they're not making me slower, and strength has improved markedly.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"100% of Senate Democrats Vote Against Farmers and For the FDA"

Just so we all know where we stand:
Here's some news for those who still somehow believe the political left in Washington cares about the People. After U.S. Senator Rand Paul introduced an amendment that would have ended armed FDA raids on raw milk farmers and legalized free speech about the curative properties of medicinal herbs, nutritional supplements and superfoods, are you curious how many Democrats voted in favor of this?


Big fat zero, to be exact.

Not a single Democrat in the United States Senate believes in fundamental food freedom, farm freedom or the principles of liberty. Every single Democrat in the Senate is a Big Brother sellout who supports the FDA having more guns pointed in the faces of raw milk farmers, arresting them and throwing them in prison, criminalizing real food and destroying America's small family farms.

Every single Democrat in the U.S. Senate believes that telling the truth about the beneficial effects of Chinese Medicine, or medicinal herbs, or nutritional supplements should be a crime that can also get you raided, shut down and imprisoned by the FDA. There is not a single Democrat who sees anything wrong with the government sending herbal product formulators to prison. There is not a single Democrat who believes that an Amish farmer has the right to milk a cow and sell that milk to their neighbor without being threatened by the government.

This is an astonishing milestone in U.S. history. When those in Washington who pretend to represent the People openly and publicly vote to crush the very liberties and freedoms they claim to protect, you no longer have a real Democracy. You have a police state.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Does Sugar Kill Your Mitochondria?

Rick Johnson: Longterm sugar use can kill cellular “batteries” and promote fat and ADHD:
"...So the sugar, once you start absorbing the sugar, it will over time, reduce your mitochondria so, mitochondria, our body is made up of cells, and we have millions and millions of cells that constitute our body. And each cell has a nucleus, which is kind of brain of the cell, but each cell also contains little units called mitochondria. These mitochondria are what produce energy.

"SHELLEY: Are they like batteries? Our EverReady battery inside the cell?

"RICHARD JOHNSON: They are like our batteries. They’re basically the energy factories of the cell, and they produce the energy that runs our cells. When you produce a lot of energy, that it is important in being able run, and to bicycle, and to climb mountains, and to swim and stay up. The energy we produce is very important, and that energy is called ATP. When a person eats more food, generally they will produce more energy. But with fructose, when you eat more, it actually slows the production of the energy, so it has an opposite effect. So you produce less energy, and you accumulate more fat, and when you produce less energy, you tend to be more tired. Now what happens over time — the more sugar you eat, it actually seems to cause damage to the mitochondria. Over time, you may actually lose mitochondria. At that point, you are almost locked into a lower energy state. Unless you can stimulate the growth of more mitochondria to allow you to get back to your original energy level.

"SHELLEY: You mean that once a child or a grownup’s body is in trouble, metabolically, then eating more sugar will help them feel more energetic for a few minutes or perhaps an hour or so. But in the long run, eating that sugar might be killing more of the batteries inside of their cells?

"RICHARD JOHNSON: Yes. Basically over time, you start to lose these mitochondria. Now in children who become obese, most of them still are have quite a few mitochondria, so they can recover quicker. You can get them back to normal weight easier than you can a 55-year-old or 60 year old, who may have lost quite a few mitochondria. It’s going to be harder to get that person back to a low stable weight, unless you find ways to stimulate their mitochondria to increase their numbers. The very best way is exercise."

Mitochondria are more like turbine engines than batteries (which only store energy), but that's quibbling.

A more substantive difference is that I don't think it's fructose which causes mitochondrial death, but glucose. From what I've read, unless your're a spermatazoa, you're not using much in the way of fructose as a fuel source.

While this study states that a "High-fructose diet, an animal model of insulin resistance, causes mitochondrial dysfunction by altering the activity of respiratory chain complex I." this one doesn't find direct effects from fructose, and was looking for them. I suspect that since complex I uses glucose as a fuel source, and fructose is metabolized into fat, having complex I down-regulated is a logical consequence.

But, if you eat lots of fructose in the Modern American Diet, you're also eating lots of glucose since sugar is 50% glucose and 50% fructose; and that we eat too much sugar is the point of Dr. Johnson's book.

I've come to the conclusion that Dr. Johnson states here from my own reading, and have been pursuing a strategy to promote mitochondrial growth for a while now. Seems to work well, as my race time are improving, the races are getting easier, and I feel better at the end. I also find my cold tolerance has improved markedly over the summer, which is a first. I've been skiing and motorcycling and I feel much, much warmer in sub-freezing temperatures than I remember from last year.

I've not read Dr. Johnson's book, but I have read one with a detailed program on how to promote mitochondrial growth, if you're interested. It's Dr. Maffetone's Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing. I suspect diligent walking for longer periods will also work (if you don't like running), which is why Seth Roberts has seen the results he has.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Instapundit Pumps the Perfect Health Diet

See here:
"READER BOOK PLUG. Reader Paul Jaminet writes to request a plug for Perfect Health Diet: Regain Health and Lose Weight by Eating the Way You Were Meant to Eat. He writes"...
That "UPDATE: A reader emails..." was me. I must have mis-typed the email, I should have written:
"It’s been life-altering, literally, for myself[. MY WIFE,] and my two daughters."
Sorry, sweetie!

I'd be shocked if you're reading this blog and you're not familiar with the Jaminet's book, and blog. If you're not, start here.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"The Essence Of Science"

A great post about about how science ought to be done.
“I also like this because it is the essence of science: choosing between theories (including no theory) based on predictions. The more unlikely the outcome, the more you learn. You’d never know this from 99.99% of scientific papers, which say nothing about how unlikely the actual outcome was a priori — at least, nothing numerical. I can’t say why this happens (why an incomplete inferential logic, centered on p values, remains standard), but it has the effect of making good work less distinguishable from poor work.”
I think Seth just answered his own question.

There’s a whole industry of academies, scientists working at those academies, and journals those scientists publish in to advance at their acadamies that depends on good work being less distinguishable from poor work.

A better standard might reveal that a lot of those scientists aren’t doing valuable work…

One gets the idea that Science is broken, perhaps intentionally.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Barefoot Army Boots

Barefoot Army Boots
Mark II.

Dr. Munson is shaking his head, the Army is coming around.

They're even using the term "zero-drop", invented by one of the founders of Altra. Although the boots are 5mm drop, not zero. Sigh.

Amazing.  See the video below for a full description.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"Food and Macronutrient Intake of Elite Kenyan Distance Runners"

Not what I'm going to eat, but interesting:
"...Athletes carried out most of their training collectively as 1 group 2 times a day, typically before breakfast and dinner. The morning run (06:00) comprised a 6 to 9 mile run carried out at either moderate or fast running pace (e.g., 11 to 15 mph) depending on athletic specialization and instructions received from the coach/manager...."

"...Total fluid intake was modest and mainly in the form of water (1113 ± 269 mL; 0.34 ± 0.16 mL/kcal) and tea (1243 ± 348 mL). No water was ingested before or during the early morning run, although only a modest amount of water was ingested after training and not by all athletes. Similarly, only a small amount of water was ingested after the afternoon run by a small number of the athletes. No water was ingested during the run...."

"...Endurance athletes are advised to strive to maintain fluid balance before, during, and after exercise to avoid a detriment in performance as a result of progressive dehydration (2). In the present study, given the greater need for fluids as the Kenyan runners lived and trained in a warm, high-altitude environment, their fluid intake was fairly modest and comprised of water (1113 ± 269 mL; 0.34 ± 0.16 mL/kcal) and tea (1243 ± 348 mL). No fluids were ingested before or during training, although only a modest amount of water was ingested after training and not by all athletes. The previous two dietary studies in Kenyan runners (14, 6) made no particular reference to fluid intake, especially in relation to exercise training, and therefore it can be assumed that no specific strategies were adopted as in the present study. Although the drinking habits of these Kenyan runners is somewhat contrary to current dietary recommendations (2), it has recently been argued that some degree of dehydration could benefit marathon runners by increasing the pressure gradient across their capillary beds, increasing capillary flow rates, and decreasing intercapillary distances (9). It is common practice among elite Kenyan distance runners to consume considerably less fluid than is recommended. The overall significance of this has yet to be experimentally determined...."

"...The food and macronutrient content of elite Kenyan runners fulfilled most of the recommendations for endurance athletes for CHO, fat, and protein intake, but not for energy (i.e., negative energy balance) and fluid intake (2).... If anything, there would appear to be room for considerable “improvements” in the nutritional practices of elite Kenyan runners, with particular reference to energy balance and fluid ingestion, assuming current recommendations would indeed be advantageous and not detrimental to the running performances of elite Kenyan runners...."

"...As the Kenyan runners in the present study appeared to be in negative energy balance, maintaining the recommended protein intake would be vital for the health of the athletes. Negative energy balance can result in loss of muscle mass and increased risk of fatigue, injury, and illness (2). It is tempting, therefore, to ascribe the relatively fast “turnover” of elite Kenyan distance runners to this particular feature of the Kenyan diet (i.e., negative/borderline energy balance). Individual Kenyan runners tend to do well for a short time but “drop out” of the world running circuit or are unable to reproduce earlier running performances (personal communication with Brother Colm O’Connell, head coach of St. Patrick’s High School, Iten, Kenya)...."

"...The fact that the athletes in the present study lost weight lends more credibility to the accuracy of food intake being lower than energy needs; it appears less likely that the athletes underreported food intake...."

This: "...assuming current recommendations would indeed be advantageous and not detrimental to the running performances of elite Kenyan runners..." is a big assumption. I'd go with detrimental...

I also find the fact that they train in a maximally-fasted state very interesting, as I'm sure it helps them overcome the high-carb diet they're eating. Their bodies must rely on both stored fat and carbs for fuel.

I wonder what their Respiratory Quotient is when resting and exercising?

Friday, October 19, 2012

"Do You Know Your Footstrike?"

Great post:
"...The results? Among the "traditional" group, 20 of 22 claimed to be rearfoot strikers; in fact, they were all rearfoot strikers. Among the minimalist group, all 35 of the "minimalist" group said they were forefoot strikers; in fact, 12 of them were rearfoot strikers...."
Turns out this matters, as a lot of the minimalist heel-strikers were beating up their heels. See the graph at the link.
"...So in this group, minimalist forefoot strikers had smaller vertical loading rates than the traditional group, but minimalist rearfoot strikers had larger vertical loading rates...."
What this tells you is that it's not enough to buy a pair of minimalist shoes. A lot of minimalist shoes still have enough cushion underfoot to allow you to heel strike, even if you're an experience barefoot-style runner.

I bought a pair of the New Balance Minimus Trail Zero (MT00) when they first came out. Took them out for a spin, and noticed a noise: Thwip, thwip, thwip, thwip... I was heel-striking! They had just enough cushion under the heel to fool my feet!

Now that's after running exclusively in minimalist shoes and barefoot for 3+ years. I examine the wear patterns on my shoes, so I know what I'm doing, and I listen closely to my feet landing. But your body just naturally falls into a heel-strike if there's enough cushion to allow it. And, to answer Alex's question:
"So... who here has objective evidence of what their footstrike is? :)"
I do. If you really want to fix your form, you need to do at least some barefoot running.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Mortality And Longevity Of Elite Athletes"

Mark Sisson posted "Why You Shouldn’t Burn More Than 4,000 Calories a Week Through Exercise" today, an extension of his Chronic Cardio concept. He states:
"Another study examined weekly caloric expenditure via aerobic exercise in a group of former athletes and non-athletes and plotted it against mortality, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. Death rate was highest in groups 1 and 2, the ones with the least amount of caloric expenditure, but group 6 (along with 1), which expended 2,500+ calories per week, had the highest rates of heart disease and high blood pressure. Those who exercised moderately lived the longest and were healthiest."
Those were college athletes. While I'm open to the notion that some level of exercise is "too much", I don't find that particular study too compelling.

What happens to elite athletes, then? They must be dropping like flies, right?
"The health benefits of leisure-time physical activity are well known, however the effects of engaging in competitive sports on health are uncertain. This literature review examines mortality and longevity of elite athletes and attempts to understand the association between long-term vigorous exercise training and survival rates. Fourteen articles of epidemiological studies were identified and classified by type of sport. Life expectancy, standardised mortality ratio, standardised proportionate mortality ratio, mortality rate, and mortality odds ratio for all causes of death were used to analyse mortality and longevity of elite athletes. It appears that elite endurance (aerobic) athletes and mixed-sports (aerobic and anaerobic) athletes survive longer than the general population, as indicated by lower mortality and higher longevity. Lower cardiovascular disease mortality is likely the primary reason for their better survival rates. On the other hand, there are inconsistent results among studies of power (anaerobic) athletes. When elite athletes engaging in various sports are analysed together, their mortality is lower than that of the general population. In conclusion, long-term vigorous exercise training is associated with increased survival rates of specific groups of athletes."
Guess not...

Thanks to JohnK.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Eating Meat For 1.5 Million Years

Scientists find oldest evidence of regular meat consumption by early humans:
"...Musiba said the evidence showed that the juvenile's diet was deficient in vitamin B12 and B9. Meat seems to have been cut off during the weaning process.

"'He was not getting the proper nutrients and probably died of malnutrition,' he said...."
Maybe the kid's parents were vegans.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Follow-up to "How To Stop Doctors From Killing Us"

"Extremely Disappointing Facts About Doctors":
"The gist of Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You — and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care (copy sent me by publisher) by Mart Makary, a med school professor at Johns Hopkins, is that doctors have failed to regulate themselves. Nobody else regulates them, so they are unaccountable. In many ways, Makary shows, bad behavior (e.g., unnecessary treatment, understating the risks of treatment) is common. Hospitals hide how bad things are. Makary mostly discusses surgeons — he’s a surgeon — but gives plenty of reasons to think other specialties are no better....

"...Supposedly state medical boards oversee doctors. Makary devotes part of a chapter to describing how they don’t. He asked state medical boards why they don’t search a national database before issuing a medical license. “My favorite excuse was that they could not afford the four-dollar-per-doctor fee.”...
Read the whole thing. And I may have to go buy this book...

Original post.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Minimalist Runners In The Army Get Hurt Less

"Relationships Among Self-reported Shoe Type, Footstrike Pattern, and Injury Incidence":


To assess the association of self-reported shoe selection with reported foot strike patterns, compare overall injury incidence associated with different shoe conditions, and identify differences in injury location between different shoe conditions....


Shoe selection was significantly associated with reported footstrike (χ² (4df) =143.4, P<.001). Barefoot and minimalist runners reported a more anterior footstrike than traditionally shod runners. Traditionally shod runners were 3.41 times more likely to report injuries than experienced minimalist shoe wearers (46.7% shod vs 13.7% minimalist, χ² (1df) =77.4, P<.001, n=888). Minimalist shoe wearers also reported fewer injuries at the hip, knee, lower leg, ankle, and foot than traditionally shod runners.

Duh, no kidding. This must be part of that unfair advantage that led the Army to ban minimalist running. Idiots.

From Runblogger on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"What I Found Was Much Worse Than I Ever Imagined…"

Or, how "experts" lie for money. Dr. Briffa hits one out out of the park:

"The head of the British Nutrition Foundation responds to my blog post on bread, and I have a few words for her too."

"...Professor Buttriss does leave the best for last, when she draws our attention to the fact that Warburtons “financially [supported] time spent on the preparation of the review.” So, let’s not mince our words and tell it straight: A bread manufacturer has funded a review which lauds the supposed nutritional attributes of bread. This, despite the fact that, as I stated in my original blog post, superfood it ain’t. And then there’s plenty about bread we should be wary of...."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

How to Stop Doctors from Killing Us

Why are malpractice insurance rates so high? Because malpractice is rampant in the medical profession. And the article I'm quoting from below doesn't even include the death rates from doctors prescribing diets that lead to malnutrition-related diseases, like heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimers', and probably some cancers.

How to Stop Hospitals from Killing Us

"When there is a plane crash in the U.S., even a minor one, it makes headlines. There is a thorough federal investigation, and the tragedy often yields important lessons for the aviation industry. Pilots and airlines thus learn how to do their jobs more safely.

"The world of American medicine is far deadlier: Medical mistakes kill enough people each week to fill four jumbo jets. But these mistakes go largely unnoticed by the world at large, and the medical community rarely learns from them. The same preventable mistakes are made over and over again, and patients are left in the dark about which hospitals have significantly better (or worse) safety records than their peers....

"...The problem is vast. U.S. surgeons operate on the wrong body part as often as 40 times a week. Roughly a quarter of all hospitalized patients will be harmed by a medical error of some kind. If medical errors were a disease, they would be the sixth leading cause of death in America—just behind accidents and ahead of Alzheimer's. The human toll aside, medical errors cost the U.S. health-care system tens of billions a year. Some 20% to 30% of all medications, tests and procedures are unnecessary, according to research done by medical specialists, surveying their own fields. What other industry misses the mark this often?...

"...Nothing makes hospitals shape up more quickly than this kind of public reporting. In 1989, the first year that New York's hospitals were required to report heart-surgery death rates, the death rate by hospital ranged from 1% to 18%—a huge gap. Consumers were finally armed with useful data. They could ask: "Why have a coronary artery bypass graft operation at a place where you have a 1-in-6 chance of dying compared with a hospital with a 1-in-100 chance of dying?"

"Instantly, New York heart hospitals with high mortality rates scrambled to improve; death rates declined by 83% in six years. Management at these hospitals finally asked staff what they had to do to make care safer. At some hospitals, the surgeons said they needed anesthesiologists who specialized in heart surgery; at others, nurse practitioners were brought in. At one hospital, the staff reported that a particular surgeon simply wasn't fit to be operating. His mortality rate was so high that it was skewing the hospital's average. Administrators ordered him to stop doing heart surgery....

"...Without telling his partners, Dr. Rex began reviewing videotapes of their procedures, measuring the time and assigning a quality score. After assessing 100 procedures, he announced to his partners that he would be timing and scoring the videos of their future procedures (even though he had already been doing this). Overnight, things changed radically. The average length of the procedures increased by 50%, and the quality scores by 30%. The doctors performed better when they knew someone was checking their work....

"...Many Americans feel that medicine has become an increasingly secretive, even arrogant, industry...."
Americans feel that medicine is arrogant because it is arrogant. And if any other business had a mortality rate this high it would be sued out of existence. Instead, it's protected from the consequences of its errors.

Doctors are not priests or holy men, they're well-educated car mechanics, who aspire to the success rates of car mechanics.

Keep that in mind when you hire one.

Monday, September 17, 2012

What Does Science Do?

Not much, actually:
"The scientific method sidesteps the concept of proof in the mathematical sense. This doesn’t mean science doesn’t employ logical deduction. Scientific results are not logical deductions. Science relies on consistency with observations: information that comes to us from outside of ourselves. Observations are generally taken as fact. In science, the only thing that can be proven with certainty is inconsistency with observations. Theories that fail to predict future results are in need of modification and are rejected as is. Science provides ideas which are testable, that is, verifiable against observation. In short, science comes up with ideas that seem to work and, whenever possible, eliminates those that don’t."
But even that is extremely important.

All too often you'll hear supposed scientists insisting that their theory is correct despite the fact that it's failed to accurately predict the future, which means, been refuted by observation.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Can You Heal Diabetes?

Normal HbA1c
Jimmy Moore's latest.

"When I posted my 4.5 A1c number on Twitter, several medical practitioners said they had NEVER seen a level that low before. WOO HOO! It’s yet another one of the many benefits I’m seeing with this nutritional ketosis experiment. And I’ve still got two more months left officially on it. But honestly, if I’m still seeing results, why would I EVER stop doing this? Some have questioned the sustainability of a diet that is 85% fat, 12% protein and 3% carbohydrate. It’s certainly what I’m doing now but maybe I won’t have to stay there forever."
And my bet would be yes.

Carbon-Free Sugar

Target market, the terminally gullible.
"Yes, it is still 100% pure cane sugar with 15 calories per teaspoon. And, it functions just like all Domino® Pure Cane Granulated Sugar. Use it cup for cup exactly like the original Domino® Pure Cane Granulated Sugar."
Because it's just sugar.

The claims they're making sound like they're literally true. The sugar is no different, they're simply pointing out that in growing it they're binding carbon, which is true for any woody plant. And they've got some carbon-friendly way to produce the energy they need to refine the sugar.

They're just taking a page from the Roman Catholics...

The market of people who believe in anthropogenic global warming is a large one (although shrinking), and they've already proven they're gullible to dubious claims... Caveat emptor.

Are they charging more, I wonder?

Thanks to Prof. Adler, who's part of the target market.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

You Are The Long-Term Test (Part 4): Back Surgery

From Seth, a doozy, which starts off with:

What happened next provides a glimpse into the sometimes contentious world of medical testing and the federal rules that allow device makers to market new products with little or no data about their long-term effectiveness or safety.

Unlike prescription drugs, many medical devices are cleared for sale by the Food and Drug Administration without extensive studies in patients. In recent years, some of those devices, which seemed effective at first, have gone on to fail catastrophically.

Last year, when Dr. Fourney told the device maker, Vertos Medical, that his report would describe the problems that patients experienced after the six-month trial, the company filed a complaint with the University of Saskatchewan, where he is a professor. In that complaint, Vertos accused Dr. Fourney of scientific misconduct and violating “research ethics” by failing, among other things, to follow the study’s original protocol and by independently deciding to follow his patients for added time without seeking agreement from Vertos.
Good for Dr. Fourney.

Read the whole thing: A Clash Over Vertos Medical’s Promising Procedure.

Given that humans have a 80+ year lifespan, the testing they do on humans for prescription drugs isn't long term, either, until it's released to the general public.

Don't be a guinea pig. If you participate in these experiments, you should be an informed participant.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Good Scientists, Bad Scientists...

Mad Scientists: Zach Throckmorton on evolution, our feet, and what it means to be human:
D101: Dorsiflexing. That's awesome. Anything else that seems important to note?

[Zach Throckmorton]: Don't run barefoot! There are two main issues with barefoot running. The first is that no matter how thick your callouses might be, they're not as protective as the sole of a shoe. If you damage a ligament or tendon, you can permanently cripple yourself. Running barefoot also makes you susceptible to picking up gross parasites like hookworm and dracunculus. The second issue is biomechanical. Barefoot running tends to promote what's called 'midfoot striking,' where the midfoot hits the ground first instead of the heel. Midfoot striking is better/more natural for some people, but not everyone. People vary in how they run comfortably/naturally. If you are a natural heel striker (most people are), then it's a bad idea to force yourself into becoming a midfoot striker because your foot isn't used to barefoot running. It's a misconception that barefoot running is more 'natural' - we know from the archeological record that people have been wearing shoes (at least soft-soled sandal type shoes) for minimally the last 40,000 years.
OK. Let's start with some arithmetic:
"The oldest known human ancestor footprints, dated to 3.7 million years ago, reveal that some of the earliest members of our family tree walked fully upright with feet similar to ours, according to new research."
Those footprints were from bare feet, btw. I present the arithmetic visually, since that seems to be how Zach likes to work:

Percentage of time spent in each condition

So for most of human history, people have been barefoot. For 1.08% of human history, some, but not all, humans have been wearing shoes.
"A fad is any form of behavior that develops among a large population and is collectively followed with enthusiasm for some period, generally as a result of the behavior's being perceived as novel in some way. A fad is said to "catch on" when the number of people adopting it begins to increase rapidly. The behavior will normally fade quickly once the perception of novelty is gone."
Which one is the fad, again?

I'll also note that all the science I've seen comparing barefoot to shod populations indicates that barefoot people tend to have much healthier feet, and that some of the variations that Zach mentions are not natural, but are the result of deformation introduced by shoes.  If Zach ever gets to this page, he can start here with some of the science on the topic.

Oh, and there's virtually no such thing as a "natural" heel striker while running.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lupine, A Novel Food That's Already Causing Problems

Mark G, a correspondent from Australia, drew my attention to this stuff:

Low-Carb Bread
Low carb, high protein bread! What could go wrong with that?

Well, if you zoom in on the ingredients, the first three are wheat protein, soy protein, and lupine protein.

Lupine protein? Lupine, the flower? Apparently:
"Lupine cultivation is at least 2,000 years old and most likely began in Egypt or in the general Mediterranean region. The lupine plant, like other grain legumes (beans, peas, lentils, etc.) fixes atmospheric nitrogen, and produces seed high in protein. There are over 300 species of the genus Lupinus (L.), but many have high levels of alkaloids (bitter tasting compounds) that make the seed unpalatable and sometimes toxic. Historically, lupine alkaloids have been removed from the seed by soaking. But plant breeders in the 1920's in Germany produced the first selections of alkaloid-free or "sweet" lupine, which can be directly consumed by humans or livestock. White lupine (L. albus L.), yellow lupine (L. luteus), and blue or narrow-leafed lupine (L. angustifolius) are cultivated as crops. Lupines are currently grown as a forage and grain legume in USSR, Poland, Germany, the Mediterranean, and as a cash crop in Australia, where it is exported to the European seed markets. Both winter-hardy and non-hardy types are available."

And since humans make such excellent guinea pigs for these sorts of things:
"The United States has a developing specialty human food market for lupine in the form of lupine flour, lupine pasta, and hulls for dietary fiber. Sweet lupines have been shown to increase the protein and fiber crops in conjunction with durum wheat in specialty pastures, and to be an excellent source of white-colored fiber, as an additive to breads and cereals."
("White-colored fiber" is most likely an euphemism for cellulose, the modern marketing name for sawdust. But that's a whole 'nother post.)

So what's wrong with using lupine protein in food? The most obvious problem is that many people with peanut allergies, one of the most common allergies, cross-react to lupine. Since lupine's novel, the regulators haven't caught up to this, and you could wind up with a nasty surprise:
"Lupine or lupin is a legume that may cause an allergic reaction in those with peanut allergy. Lupine is used in this country in many gluten-free and high-protein products. In many European countries, particularly Italy and France, lupine flour and/or peanut flour may be mixed with wheat flour in baked goods."
Also here:
"Amino acid sequence homology also suggests that these proteins could be responsible, at least in part, for some of the allergic cross-reactions between peanut and lupine reported in the literature."
And here:
"Lupine flour is allergenic and potentially cross-reactive with peanut allergen, thus posing some risk if used as a replacement for soy flour."
And of course:
"Conclusions:  A small but significant number of children with peanut allergy are allergic to lupin."
But you won't learn that from reading the allergen warnings, if you live in Europe:
"Tough new laws on food allergens that enter into force in Europe in November will require food manufacturers to list 12 potentially allergic ingredients, and their derivatives. Lupin flour is not included in the listing."
Of course that's after they allowed lupin flower to enter the food supply. But that's not all:
"Poisoning varies depending on lupine species and varieties, and it is difficult to pin point to specific plant or animal since different animals become susceptible in different ways under varying range conditions.

Species and taxonomic differentiations between species are insufficiently characterized. Different lupines produce varying syndromes in a a given species of livestock....

More than a dozen quinolizidine alkaloids, but some piperidine alkaloids and other types of alkaloids have also been isolated from species of Lupinus. These alkaloids are largely nicotinic in effect. The nitrogen oxides of some of these bases have also been detected in some lupines. The alkaloids are present in the foliage but the greatest concentration is in the seeds.

[P.S. I forgot to mention that this food has nearly the perfect profile for a novel, yet toxic, food to be introduced. It's enough to make you a Paleo paranoid. In it's new and improved form, it's not overtly toxic, but if it were to present symptoms of toxicity, they'd be diverse, and nearly impossible to tie back to the original source. Sort of like modern wheat. In the meanwhile the producers would be able to make a boatload of cash on it, until the truth finally starts to leak out.]

I'd guess that they're reduced the levels of alkaloids in the "sweet lupine" down to some tolerable level, and not completely eliminated them. So, like soy, wheat, or bok choy, if you start eating large amounts of lupin, you may find that you've exceeded the toxic amount.

Interestingly, I found that one of the major proponents (and producers) of lupine, George Weston Foods, applied to the US Food and Drug Administration for a "generally recognized as safe" designation for "sweet lupin" flour, fiber, and protein. They then withdrew the request:
"The subject of the notice is sweet lupin flour. The notice informs FDA of the view of George Weston Foods, Ltd. that sweet lupin flour is GRAS, through scientific procedures, for use as an ingredient in baked goods and baking mixes and grain products and pastas at a maximum level of 25 per cent.

"In a letter dated December 10, 2008, you withdrew your notice. Given your letter, we ceased to evaluate your GRAS notice, effective December 16, 2008, the date that we received your letter."
That's odd. I wonder what George Weston Foods knows about lupin that caused them to withdraw the request?

Nevertheless, if you're dying to give Lupin flour a try in the U.S., you can buy some here. What are the advantages they cite?
Type: Peanut Free, All Natural, Gluten Free, Kosher, Raw, Sugar Free, Vegan, Wheat Free, Dairy Free.
Technically, that's true, of course. But the only reason you'd be interested in the fact that a food was peanut-free is if you were allergic to peanuts...

Calling all attorneys.

Caveat emptor, as always. Look out for yourself, because you can't trust the food producers or the regulators to look out for you.

Friday, August 31, 2012

"How Not to Label Biotech Foods"

"In November, Californians will vote on Proposition 37, a ballot initiative to impose a mandatory labeling requirement on all foods produced with or from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). For reasons I discuss in this New Atlantis article, this requirement is unnecessary, unwise and potentially unconstitutional.

"The effort has been endorsed by numerous progressive organizations and the California Democratic Party. Of note, those who usually police the misuse or politicization of science have been strangely quiet about the misleading and inaccurate scientific claims made by Prop. 37 proponents. Although the proposition warns of “adverse health consequences” from genetic engineering of foods, there is not a single documented case of adverse health consequences due to the use of GMOs. Yet about traditional crop-breeding techniques, we can say no such thing. It’s no wonder that the National Academy of Sciences has issued numerous reports concluding that the use of modern genetic modification techniques, in themselves, have no bearing on the relative safety of a food product. What was done to a specific GMO matters more than whether specific modification techniques were used...."
As I posted in the comments at that page:
"Although the proposition warns of “adverse health consequences” from genetic engineering of foods, there is not a single documented case of adverse health consequences due to the use of GMOs."

There's no requirement that these foods be tested for safety for human consumption in the long or the short term. And absence of evidence that they're not safe is not evidence that they are safe.

So we'll find out that that they're not safe in the same way we are finding out that thalidomide was not safe, or that Vioxx or some of the modern, traditionally bred wheat varieties are not safe: when millions of people start getting sick from consuming them. (Here we have hard evidence, btw. Incidence of celiac disease is up 400% since the modern varieties were introduced, and the disease has been called the most common genetically-determined disease in the world. According to the Grain Foods Association, 1% of the populations has celiac, and 7% of the population of the US gets ill from eating modern wheat.)

If we're expected to be the guinea pigs for these experiments, the least we can request is that we be allowed to participate in an informed way. Tell us whether our food contains GMOs or not, or test them for safety prior to their being released.
"The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which delineates FDA's regulatory authority for foods, defines food as articles used for food or drink for man and other animals. The Act, however, does not require pre-market clearance of food and thus, many genetically modified plants do not require formal pre-market review by the FDA as they are food...

"...The labeling of food derived from genetically modified plants is a matter of some controversy. FDA does not consider the method of production, including genetic modification, to be meaningful information which is required to be on product labeling unless the modification results in a significant material change in the food product....

However, the majority of the plants which have completed the [voluntary] consultation process have not triggered any labeling requirement."
So Prof. Adler, your position must be that all laws requiring informed consent in human experiments are unconstitutional?
Those lasts quotes are from this post.

Here's a page at the National Institutes of Health detailing the laws related to the protection of human subjects:
"In the past, the role of human research subject has been fraught with danger and suffering. The ancient Hippocratic Oath specified a duty from a physician to avoid harming the patient, but that oath, highly honored today, was not even subscribed to by a majority of doctors at the time. Advances in protection for human subjects have often come in response to particular abuses or scandals. The German atrocities of World War II, some of which were committed in the name of science, led to the Nuremberg Code of international ethics, which in part spelled out the requirement that any human subject must give informed consent to the research undertaken. The disaster of thalidomide in Europe and Canada was largely averted in the United States, but thousands of patients had taken doses without being informed of the drug's experimental nature. The brush with thalidomide helped the U.S. pass the 1962 Kefauver-Harris amendments, which strengthened federal oversight of drug testing and included a requirement for informed consent. A 1966 study of abuses, written by Dr. Henry K. Beecher, helped inform government policies adopted in that year. Likewise, the discovery in the 1970s that unwitting subjects had been allowed to suffer syphilis in the 1930s Tuskegee Experiment preceded a call for tighter regulation of federally-funded human research."
The notion that a labeling requirement that would lead to informed consent of the participants in a human experiment is unconstitutional is a big stretch. I'm surprised a law professor would make it.

P.S. Some further stuff I put in the comments over there:
"Although the proposition warns of “adverse health consequences” from genetic engineering of foods, there is not a single documented case of adverse health consequences due to the use of GMOs."
Turns out this is not true.

Starlink corn was a corn that was not approved for feeding to humans. It was nevertheless found in food supply and some people seem to have had a reaction to it. There was no test to see whether or not it had an effect in humans, the test they derived after the fact may or may not have been accurate. Again, a lack of testing is not evidence of safety.

27 Wm. & Mary Envtl. L. & Pol'y Rev. 593 (2002-2003) Myths of Voluntary Compliance: Lessons from the StarLink Corn Fiasco; Bratspies, Rebecca M.
"CDC developed a case definition that included a) a suspected anaphylactic reaction (e.g., dizziness, weakness, or loss of consciousness) that occurred within 1 hr of product consumption; or b) any of the following dermatological or oropharyngeal symptoms (hives, rash, pruritus, oropharyngeal tingling or swelling) that occurred within 12 hr of product consumption; or c) any of the following gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping) that occurred within 12 hr of product consumption and that involved only one individual among meal companions. It was also necessary that these symptoms were not explained by a preexisting medical condition....

"Twenty-eight of the 51 reports were consistent with the case definition....

"...The StarLink experience demonstrates many of the limitations in using postmarket surveillance for adverse reactions to food as a method for assessing allergenicity to a protein that has been newly introduced into the food supply. Intensive epidemiologic investigation and laboratory test development by federal investigators was not sufficient to determine whether individual allergic reactions were associated with the inadvertent release of a geneticallymodified protein into the human food supply. It is also unlikely that postmarketing physicians or hospital-based surveillance would have been able to detect any increase in allergic reactions during the time that StarLink corn was available to consumers. The symptoms described in the case definition used inthis investigation are generic and could have been attributed to a variety of etiologies. The StarLink example demonstrates many of theproblems with any surveillance system that tries to capture rare and somewhat generic health events such as food allergy."
Clinical and laboratory investigation of allergy to genetically modified foods.

Development and Use of an ELISA Test to Detect IgE Antibody to Cry9c following Possible Exposure to Bioengineered Corn
And just one more observation: Prof. Adler makes the case, incorrectly, that there's no evidence of tainted GMO foods. What he doesn't seem to be aware of is that the issue of tainted foods allowed to be sold under current law may well be the biggest health issue we have today, and a major cause of our health-care crisis.

For instance, the trans fats that Mayor Bloomberg banned in NYC are a major problem, despite this being pooh-poohed by conservatives ignorant of the science. (I am a conservative, and I was ignorant of the science.)

In the scientific literature, they're widely regarded as toxic in any amount, and have been reliably demonstrated to cause severe health effects. 30% of the US population is currently sufferingfrom Non-Alchoholic Fatty Liver Disease. If you want to induce NAFLD in animals, you feed them trans-fats and sugar. Junk food, in other words.

Novel foods are being put into the food supply without any testing, and are making millions of people sick. This is not hypothetical. People who are aware of this fact are trying to avoid being the next victim of the next novel food introduced into the food supply without any safety testing whatsoever.

By law, no scientific experiment in the US can be performed without the informed consent of the participants in the experiment. Unless you're a food company introducing a novel food the safety of which is unknown. In that case, Prof. Adler argues, no information needs be provided to the participants of the experiment, the public buying the food. This is completely contrary to all the rest of the law in the country.

This is the language used to exempt food consumed:
" (6) Taste and food quality evaluation and consumer acceptance studies, (i) if wholesome foods without additives are consumed or (ii) if a food is consumed that contains a food ingredient at or below the level and for a use found to be safe, or agricultural chemical or environmental contaminant at or below the level found to be safe, by the Food and Drug Administration or approved by the Environmental Protection Agency or the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture." But the FDA does no testing to determine what the safe amounts [of GMOs] are.

It just assumes that they're safe.

What could possibly go wrong with that?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fat-Adapted Horses

In The Perfect Health Diet, the Jaminets point out that while a ruminant like a cow may each lots of carbohydrate in the form of indigestible fiber, what actually makes it into their blood stream is nearly pure fat, along with about 10% protein, thanks to the fermentation of fiber into short-chain fatty acids. (No link, sorry, and I can't find my copy to quote it directly.)

This ends, of course, when they're put on the feed lot, and they develop a nice layer of fat and fatty deposits in their muscles, if a grain-based diet doesn't kill them first.

I stumbled across this link looking for some information about athletes on a fat-based diet:

Feeding Oil or Fat for Horses - A Review

I got what I was looking for, and it turns out it's fascinating. Stance Equine is a company that "...pioneered the feeding of no grain, low sugar and starch feeds to horses to avoid the metabolic chaos caused by high NSC [non-structured carbohydrate] feeds. The Stance Equine feeds are based on the unique attributes of copra, coconut meal and coconut oil."
"The Domesticated Lifestyle

"The modern, domesticated horse lives in an environment markedly different to the evolutionary one. Horses are often kept in paddocks and stables, restricting access to quality pasture. This, coupled with the high-energy demands of performance, can make safely meeting horses energy needs, a tall order...."
Huh. That sounds familiar... Horses on the Paleo diet.

Well, not quite, as (from the first link): "The option of feeding horses the balanced and natural diet on which they evolved is, in most cases, unfeasible due to space, time and financial constraints. Besides which it is most unlikely that the natural diet of horses would suffice to meet the energy needs demanded of many performance pursuits."

Of course, as it requires a lot of time and chewing. Nevertheless, this puts horses squarely in the same position as a human athlete, who also can't afford to spend all their time hunting ruminants, and so must make do with a second-best diet.
"The Grain Solution

"Traditionally, horse diets have often included large quantities of grain (ie. starch) in an attempt to sate energy needs. However, horses have a limited capacity to digest starch and high starch feeding practices can result in starch overload into the hindgut (Kohnke et al 1999; Rowe et al 2001). A number of metabolic disorders - such as tying up, laminitis, colic, and excitable behaviour - are associated with high grain diets. Advances in feed processing technologies have reduced the risks associated with high grain feeding, but have not eliminated them...."
But unlike human athletes, it turns out that there's been a good bit of work done on the effect of a fat-based diet on horse's athletic performance. Now mind you, they're not people, or even mice, but based on the similarities of the ill effects on the horses from a high carbohydrate diet, it's an interesting possibility that the benefits would be the same.

It turns out there's also a Maffetone Method for horses:
"Training to Facilitate the Aerobic Pathway

"The aerobic metabolism provides energy for slow-twitch muscle fibres and therefore stamina. It also provides much of the energy for explosive exercise, which cannot be met by energy from the anaerobic process alone. Training the horse to facilitate aerobic metabolism, is advantageous to performance in all disciplines as a result of the elevated ATP production.

"With training, horses have a higher number of mitochondria and enzymes in their muscles, which produce more energy. Training also increases the blood's ability to carry oxygen to the muscles, through increased haemoglobin concentration in blood. Training allows horses to carry out aerobic energy production more efficiently...."
The article goes through a variety of information about feeding fat to horses. "Horses exhibit a preference for vegetable oils over animal fats (Potter n.d.).", thank heavens, but that got me worried about the ill effects of vegetable oils on horses...
"The Link Between Dietary Fats and Cancer.

"In humans nd [sic] rodents, dietary fats have been implicated in carcinogenesis, partly via the mechanism of oxidative DNA damage (Loft et al 1998). Loft et al (1998) found high total energy intake (rather than simply high fat intake), to be the major cause of oxidative DNA damage in rats, irrespective of degree of saturation of dietary fat consumed. D'Aquino et al (1991) reported that unlike coconut oil, fish oils are highly susceptible to oxidative deterioration and challenge the antioxidant defence system in rats, thereby increasing susceptibility of tissues to free radical oxidative damage.

"An experiment involving tumour-bearing mice indicated that the level of dietary linoleic acid consumed was proportional to the weight of their tumours and to the number of macroscopic metastases. Mice that consumed proportionally more saturated fatty acids (in the form of coconut oil) had lighter tumours and fewer macroscopic metastases (Rose et al 1993).

"Reddy (1992) noted that diets containing coconut oil, olive oil or fish oil had no colon-tumour enhancing effects regardless of whether they were fed at rates of 23% or less. However rats fed diets containing 23% corn oil, safflower oil, beef tallow or lard had increased incidence of colon tumours.

"The links between dietary fats -their type and level of consumption- and impact on CHD and carcinogenesis are poorly understood. However, it appears that coconut oil may play a non-promotional role with regard to carcinogenesis...."
I won't get into beef tallow at the moment, but I agree that feeding lots of linoleic acid to anything is a bad idea.
"Benefits of Feeding Fat

"Fat supplemented diets for horses have proven to be beneficial beyond that mentioned above. Adding fats to the diets of growing and breeding horses has increased milk energy yield in lactating mares and increased growth rate in weanlings (Scott et al 1989; Davison et al 1991). However, the most exciting effects of feeding fat to horses have been observed in the equine athlete.

"The effect of fat supplementation on muscle glycogen storage and utilisation has been widely tested. Other areas - such as effect of extra dietary fat on thermoregulation, energy requirement, management of Equine Rhabdomyolysis, and other exercise parameters - have also been explored...."
Needless to say, read the whole thing. I regard the effects of a fat-based diet on human athletes as somewhat contradictory. Glycogen storage is reduced, according to some studies, but according to others, training in the fasted state increases glycogen stores. I was looking for information to shed some more light when I came across this article. I find it very interesting that a fat-based diet is a full-on benefit to glycogen management in horses. After all, in some respects, humans are better runners than horses...

Of course these folk are selling fat-based feeds for horses, so they have an axe to grind, but it seems consistent with what I've been reading about other species.

I'm beginning to come around to Gary Taubes' view... Easily-digested carbohydrates may be best avoided, regardless of what species you are.
"Should We Feed Fat to Horses?

"Current research indicates that fat supplementation is a viable energy source for performance horses which is of greater benefit than simply caloricifically. However, almost all studies investigating the effects of fat supplementation on horses have been relatively short term, involved a small number of horses and produce results which are not always highly repeatable. In order that more confidence be placed in the long term feeding of fats to horses, studies need to be of longer duration, involve more horses and more consistent results are necessary. The best type of fat for horses should also be ascertained...."
Sounds to me like these folks are on the right path.

Friday, August 24, 2012

"New Research Debunks Gluten-free Diet for Weight Loss"

Science for sale.
"...Approximately one percent of Americans have celiac disease and another six percent are estimated to suffer from gluten sensitivity, yet many others believe going gluten-free leads to good health...."

"This paper is one of the first to look at the other side of the gluten craze. While the gluten-free diet is an important medical treatment for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, far too many Americans are following the diet for reasons that simply do not make sense," stated Dr. Gaesser. "Even though it has been endorsed by celebrities for weight loss, let's face it – they are not the experts on nutrition and health. It's time to listen to the science."

These findings run counter to a recent Harris survey of more than 2,000 adults polled about their perceptions and use of the gluten-free diet. Of those participants who followed the diet, half reported doing it to "feel better" and 26% as a "diet for losing weight."

...For expert nutrition advice, and more information about the gluten-free diet, please visit

About the Grain Foods Foundation The Grain Foods Foundation, a joint venture of members of the milling, baking and allied industries formed in 2004, is dedicated to advancing the public's understanding of the beneficial role grain-based foods play in the human diet. Directed by a board of trustees, funding for the Foundation is provided through voluntary donations from private grain-based food companies and is supplemented by industry associations. For more information about the Grain Foods Foundation, visit, or find GoWithTheGrain on Facebook and Twitter.

SOURCE Grain Foods Foundation
They list 7% of the population that shouldn't eat wheat. That's pretty big progress, considering the source. Can you think of many other foods that are patently toxic to 1% of the population, and probably toxic to another 6%?

I wonder when the warning labels will appear...

And of course a few years ago the "experts" were poo-pooing the whole concept. Celiac was extremely rare, after all.

From Dr. Davis on twitter.

P.S. Had to change the link, the old one to the Sacramento Bee stopped working.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Value Of Being Conservative

"...I was not trying to prove that the industry itself is doing everything right.

"That's because it most certainly isn't. But it is the only biopharma industry we have, and before someone comes along with a scheme to completely rework it, one should ask whether that's a good idea. In this very context, the following quote from Chesterton has been brought up, and it's very much worth keeping in mind:
In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."
"This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion.
Emphasis mine.

Monday, August 20, 2012

RSS Feeds

I may have just screwed this up... So if you can't read this in your reader, let me know.

This is a test... Nope, all good (I think).

Junk Science About Junk Food

Good point:
"In the fight against obesity, should science matter? It depends on whom you ask. The answer may surprise you, and could make you realize that you shouldn't always trust the do-gooders."
The do-gooders often care more about being able to tell you what to do than about whether what they're telling you is correct. And even if they're occasionally correct, does being right as often as a stopped clock make them good advisors? Sorry, "rulers" is a better word than "advisors"...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Low-Carb vs. Low-Fat At The Western States 100

What did other racers eat?

STEVE PHINNEY: We really can’t say. We only got data from 25 athletes out of more than 200 athletes in the race. That’s less than one in 10. We were sort of rushed to get this protocol in place and so we did not recruit people months ahead of time. We were recruiting people the day before the race. They were walking in saying, “I want to be in your study,” and so I do know, that it’s fair to say that among the top 20 males, in addition to the winner, Tim Olson, there were at least a couple other well adapted low-carb runners among the men, and among the top 20 women there were at least two of them who were low-carb runners.

Were some top runners high carb?

STEVE PHINNEY: Absolutely So this speaks quite possibly to the issue of individualization. It may well be that all of us don’t come out of the exact same cookie-cutter in terms of what we look like and what our metabolism looks like. It seems that some people’s metabolism tolerates lots of carbs without much in the way of side effects. That is, the people who tolerate carbs remain highly insulin sensitive even when they eat a high carbohydrate diet, so that fuel they eat is rapidly processed and goes to the tissue and gets burned for fuel and doesn’t get stuck in fat storage. But it also seems that if there is even a hint of insulin resistance in a person’s metabolic makeup, you can make it worse with a high carb feeding. Meanwhile, in that same person, you can make that insulin resistance essentially go away with low-carb eating. So some people are probably are well adapted to be high carb runners and some people are much better adapted to be low-carb runners.

Thanks to Mark Sisson, who may be coming around on this whole Chronic Cardio thing...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

One Good Podiatrist in England, And This Is How He's Treated

Podiatrist 'banned' from Tesco after insisting on walking around the store barefoot:
"'I have always thought that people needed to wear shoes as they can support your feet up to 80 per cent.

"'However, then I read a book named Born To Run and it was about a barefoot runner. After reading it I did a bit of research about barefoot walking and running and liked what I read.'

"Amazingly, Mr Bloor said he has never had any injuries from going barefoot, and has only encountered a few splinters.

"He has been shopping barefoot at the Tesco branch for years without incident but was suddenly blocked by a security guard on August 5.

"Mr Bloor explained: 'When I got banned from Tesco I was pretty shocked, I had been going there for two years and spent hundreds of pounds.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

You've Been Conned

What a fabulous piece of journalism by Joe Uhan at iRunFar.
"...But in the US, the sports drink industry drove a different agenda and wanted runners to drink as much of their product as was possible. As a result US runners were conned to believe that if they did not drink “as much as tolerable” they would at best have a poor race and at worst die from dehydration. Instead, this advice caused an epidemic of hyponatremia and poor performances since we now know that athletes who drink ahead of their thirst impair their exercise performance...."
This is becoming a common theme. Shoes, food, hydration...

And more kudos to Western States for leading the way to better runner's health. It's a horrible tragedy when runners are injured by following medical advice, as was happening at WS a few years ago:
"...So, for the 2010 event, we completely removed from the weight change guidelines any criteria for holding a runner based upon weight change. These guidelines provided to the medical and aid station staff basically specify that weight loss of up to 3-5% is appropriate, less than this should trigger a recommendation to consider reducing fluid and sodium intake, and more than this should trigger a recommendation to consider increasing fluid intake, and possibly sodium intake, as well....
And in conclusion:
"Be minimalist..."

Monday, August 13, 2012

Thoughts on the Ancestral Health Symposium 2012

Last year I missed the opportunity to attend the first AHS, in Los Angeles. I have a certain visceral opposition to LA, for no good reason (I once spent a night there when I missed a connecting flight, and that's my entire exposure to the place). I spent the rest of the year regretting that, especially after hearing what a great event it was.

AHS 2012
So this year I rectified my error, made easier by the fact that they held it at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, 140 miles from my house.

I was a little apprehensive heading up there as I was unsure how valuable this event would turn out to be, as I do spend a fair bit of time reading about all this stuff. What would I learn? Where would I eat dinner? All sorts of concerns...

All of which were totally unfounded. What a terrific event, what a terrific bunch of people. The event reminded me very much of the early meetings of the World Wide Web Artists' Consortium in 1994 and '95 in New York. The WWWAC helped to creat the Internet that we all take for granted today, as it was the focus of early web development in NYC. Just like then, at AHS you got the feeling that you were in on a Great Truth, and that all that remained was to let the world in on it, and thereby change everything. I don't doubt for a minute that AHS will help this to happen, just as the WWWAC did. It's a great feeling to be at the early stage of a revolution like this.

The symposium was organized into sessions, held in what seemed to be rapid-fire order. The first day only contained one track, but the second and third had dual tracks, which got annoying when you wanted to attend two simultaneously, or even worse, when you started chatting with someone and then realized you'd missed the first 10 minutes of your next session.

Dan Lieberman of Harvard was the keynote speaker, opening the symposium with a terrifically funny (as usual: he's wasted on Harvard, he should do stand-up comedy) overview of human evolution and evolutionary adaptation, setting the stage for all the sessions to follow. I understand the sessions are all to be posted on the 'net, I highly recommend watching them: access will be free. Some of them were breathtaking, some left me with tears in my eyes, like Joel Salatin's ringing cry to take back our freedom to feed ourselves, and Terry Wahls' account of her recovery from multiple sclerosis. A few annoyed me, like Dr. James O'Keefe's misconceived but well-meaning account of the cardiovascular dangers of marathon running, but all that I attended were very informative and led by intelligent and well-spoken presenters.

When Robb Wolf describes John Welbourn as large, he's wrong. The dude's enormous, and he gave a fascinating discussion of how some athletes he's working with have become world record holders while eating a low-carb paleo diet. Carbohydrates appear to be seriously over-rated...

Joel Salatin closed the first day. What a speaker! It felt like a revival meeting, and he was the preacher of real food and the good life. He also explained how much more productive his holistic approach to farming is, and touched on how impossible it is to do with government meddling. He got a resounding standing ovation.

Prof. Lieberman led a barefoot run along the Charles River the morning of the second day, which offered a rare opportunity to have a guided tour through Cambridge by a leading scientist. Lieberman's a fast runner! The easy, conversational portion of the run was at a quick pace, and at the end he announced that we were going to to "strides", "at the end, when they have the most benefit!" I kept up for a bit, but my poor aerobic fitness allowed the professor to leave me in the dust. Happily Ben Greenfield, a Maffetone disciple and triathlete, completely understood, and promised he'd never tell Phil that I exceeded my MAF HR. (I had to stop at the beginning of the run and turn off the audible alert on the Garmin.) Too funny.

The only negative thing about barefoot running is that the range of adaptation is narrow: the fact that I can run 6 miles around my roads didn't mean that I could run 6 miles on the rougher roads and paved trails of Cambridge, and my feet were tingling for the next two days.

Professor Lieberman was kind enough to offer me a tour of the Mecca of barefoot-running science: his lab at Harvard. I got to see the famous treadmill, some of his new gadgets for measuring runners, and an interesting explanation of how difficult it is to measure many of the things that may lead to running injury. Mathematical correction of jiggling is a major undertaking, it turns out. We also went looking for Eskimo teeth, but only found a few cavemen.

A few scientists and doctors recounted their research testing ketogenic diets on cancer progression (very promising) and epilepsy (the best treatment approach by far). Nevertheless, institutions are very reluctant to fund or even allow these studies; insurance companies are reluctant to pay for them, despite being more effective and less expensive; and one doctor described the need to refer to these diets as "therapies" to get them through the morass of bureaucracy...

Outside the sessions...

Oh, and God, I got to meet Stephan Guyenet and thank him for probably saving my life. I wouldn't be typing this, or enjoying a symptom-free existance right now, if it wasn't for his incredibly level-headed and well-reasoned blog, and for all the hard work he's done. Thanks again, Stephan. I had the additional pleasure of standing around with drinks in our hands talking with him and Prof. Lieberman about teeth. Moments like that made this whole thing worthwhile. And I'm really looking forward to what he produces in his professional career.

End P.S.

I met too many other people to recount here, but have a few thoughts in general. It was an incredibly healthy-looking crowd. But the game I played was to ask the people I met how they'd gotten into the paleo/ancestral health scene. Most recounted some story of health issues that the medical establishment had been unable to resolve, which abated once a healthy diet (meaning one in opposition to the government regulations) had been adopted. Terry Wahls is the most extreme, but many of the rest of us had similar experiences. Considering how many of these people have intractable, incurable conditions of one sort or another, they're looking terrific and acting like they're the happiest people on the planet. Oh, and a couple of years after getting out of her wheelchair poor Dr. Wahls showed up to AHS with her arm in a sling. She broke it falling off her bicycle.

I've also never seen so many people with minimalist, or no, shoes on. Lunas were a popular option (Prof. Lieberman and John Durant wore them for part of our run, as did I, Ben ran the whole thing in his bare feet.), Vibrams, VivoBarefoot, New Balance Minimi (suitable, since their HQ is in Boston), Skora, Merrel and again, too many others to recount, including some I didn't recognize. It's hard to believe that two years ago it was hard to find a minimalist option. Now I couldn't keep track of them all. Happily, there were many doctors in attendence. While one cardiologist did explain the many difficulties in changing the "standard of care" in our bureaucratic, sclerotic medical system, one hopes that a grass root effort like this one can upend the medical establishment's understanding of the relationship between diet and chronic illness, and offer help to the many people who are ill-served by the current regime.

Tower of low-carb power
Of course the closing ceremony was the Barefoot Banquet, held at the Charles Hotel just down the street from the law school. As with all the rest of the sessions, all the food was paleo, so folks like Dr. Wahls and me could eat without concern, and enjoy the famed NorCal Margarita. Some of us seemed to enjoy them a bit too much. ;) The funniest moment of the evening was when they brought out the grass-fed, gluten-free sliders. So many buns were left over that some enterprising folk built a fort out of them. What a terrific time.

And then, to top it off, I gave John Durant a ride back toward NYC to save him from a long bus ride, and got to hear all about the book he's working on. It sounds terrific, I'm quite excited to read the whole thing.

I think this alliance of scientists, doctors, patients, and athletes have a real chance to change the world. What exciting times.

And a side note: the conference was organized by volunteers. I've been to expensive, professional conferences that weren't this well organized, and certainly not this cheerful or thoughtful. Bravo to all involved.

P.S. Here's a roundup of recaps of AHS12 if you're interested.

Monday, August 6, 2012

How To Handle Running Injuries And Adaptation

From this discussion: "How to know if your body is bullshitting you":
"There are a couple of things that I think are pretty reliable indicators that you've done too much: getting sick right after you do a heavy workout, as I did last weekend. Any injury that doesn't resolve after 3-4 days, or continues to reoccur. That typically requires rest for the former, and attention for the latter.

As you run more, you'll encounter plenty of aches and pains. If they appear and clear up shortly, and don't reoccur, then they're likely adaptation. Enjoy, you're becoming a better runner.

The real trick is injuries that can only be resolved by stressing the injured bit. Achilles tendinosis and eccentric heel drops are the perfect example: you must hurt the tendon to heal it.

Misinterpreting another type of injury as this type and attempting to "work through it" is how a lot of injuries occur, I think. Torn muscles need rest, for instance. Continuing to strain them will only make it worse.

Also figuring out cause and effect can be a trial. I've had injuries appear on one leg that were the result of a problem on the other leg. It took a very long time to figure out what was going on, and how to resolve. Typical "injuries" that are really symptoms of [some] other problem, in my experience, are the aforementioned achilles tendinosis, runner's knee (aka patellofemoral pain syndrome), iliotibial-band syndrome (ITBS), and plantar fasciitis. The famous "top of foot pain" can be such a symptom, but not always.

People weren't meant to start running in the middle of their lives. Doing so is a complicated process
Links added. This is a pretty good summary of my thinking on this topic at the moment: no doubt it will evolve.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fibromyalgia And Oxalic Acid


As with most of these dietary interventions, they're pretty low-risk. Nothing bad is going to happen to you if you don't eat a group of fruits and vegetables for a few weeks, so if you've got the disease, it's worth a shot.

Also, the woman who discovered that her fybromyalgia symptoms disappeared after cutting out oxalic-acid-containing plants is a medical doctor. She observes:
"As a GP of 17 years I’ve come across many patients convinced their alternative approach is beneficial — whether it’s homeopathy or herbal supplements — and my attitude has always been sceptical.

"But ‘you are what you eat’, and we are increasingly finding associations between various foods and diseases, which were scoffed at in the past — a fact with which many of my medical colleagues would agree."
Perhaps someone can enlighten me: at what point "in the past" did the medical profession forget about Hippocrates, the founder of Western medicine?
Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food."
Kudos to this doc for using her inner doctor.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Carbs Bad, Fat Good: The New Conventional Wisdom?

"Diet Wars Turn Family Feud"; too funny:
"...More importantly, in the past decade, science and dietary culture in general have left low-fat ideology (and, increasingly, calorie counting) in the rear view mirror. The fatwa on dietary cholesterol has more or less evaporated. Saturated fat is still wrongly maligned as a risk factor for heart disease, and a debate still brews over the health of red meat, but few researchers in a position to know better will argue that butter, cream and beef fat have much to do with putting on the pounds, and the growing popularity of diets based on whole foods—Michael Pollan readily goes to bat for butter—are an implicit rebuke of the margarine mentality. The defenders of the low-fat message, the dietary authorities behind our nutritional guidelines, still talk smack about fat and sodium, but have increasingly shifted their ire towards unrefined carbohydrates, a concession to the effects of insulin. Public health interventions are taking aim at Big Gulps, not Ben & Jerry’s. The dietary arena has become a more uncertain place for low-fat missionaries like the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Michael Jacobson, and a less hostile place for people like Gary Taubes.

"Then there is The New York Times...."
Well, the Times is always the last place to figure things out.

But if this article is appearing in the Columbia Journalism Review, it's well on it's way to being the conventional wisdom.

Dr. Atkins, you've won.

And there's this:
"For fans of pique and bad manners, you could do worse than [Gina Kolata's] largely stenographic Q&A with Dr. Jules Hirsch, an emeritus professor and emeritus physician in chief at Rockefeller University. Hirsch waved off the JAMA paper’s findings as an artifact of water-loss in a low-carbohydrate diet. He referred to the paper’s premise as “hocus-pocus.” There was the title: “In Dieting, Magic Isn’t a Substitute for Science.” Hirsch invoked “the law of science,” and ”the inflexible law of physics,” but Ludwig knows a little bit about science too. As the Harvard endocrinologist pointed out in a letter published the following week, the study controlled for the effects of water weight in several different ways. Oops."
One suspects the author's not a big fan of Kolata.